One Day At A Time: The Complete Series DVD box set review

Dec 08, 2017- Permalink

Bonnie Franklin. Norman Lear. Pat Harrington as Schneider, the know-it-all superintendent. That magic combination provided laughs for nine seasons between 1975 and 1984 on the CBS sitcom One Day At A Time. The team over at Shout! Factory has now poured that magic into a new DVD box set called One Day At A Time: The Complete Series for you to take home and add to your entertainment library. I recently had a chance to look at a review copy and have spent the past few days getting reacquainted with the show.

The series follows Ann Romano (Franklin), a divorced mother who moves to Indianapolis to start a new life with her daughters, Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli). As Romano tries to balance giving the girls the freedom she never had with the boundaries teens sometimes need, she also has to contend with the unwanted advice of the always present superintendent Schneider (Harrington). New relationships, family dynamics and an abundance of “Very Special Episodes” had viewers tuning in week after week. Between the Emmys, Golden Globes and TV Land Awards, the show had eighteen nominations and five wins. The show didn’t turn away from difficult issues. Deadbeat exes, birth control, alcohol, women’s liberation and more were covered. In typical Lear fashion, the hard topics of the day were served with a heaping dose of laughs.

Shout! Factory’s box set features the series’ 208 episodes spread over 27 discs. The episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The set also includes new interviews with Mackenzie Phillips and Glenn Scarpelli (Alex Handris in seasons 6-8), the One Day At A Time reunion special and This Is It: The Story of One Day At A Time, another collection of interviews and clips. There’s also a twenty page episode guide.

Shout! Factory are the saviors of classic TV as evidenced by the painstaking work they did on clearing music rights for the release of WKRP in Cincinnati. They did the same here, making sure to clear the rights so we could see Barbara and Julie perform Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” in season two. Shout! Factory frequently picks up the ball where it has been dropped by others. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released season one of One Day At A Time a decade ago, but then stopped. Shout! Factory has made sure that we can now take the whole run of this classic show home. They run disclaimers on the discs saying that the episodes are from the best available sources, but those disclaimers are hardly necessary with great audio and video transfers given that the show was videotaped and therefore transferred off of tapes that were up to 42 years old. While many shows in the 90s, like Frasier, Friends and Seinfeld were shot on film and therefore can be transferred from film masters to Blu-ray with HD quality, many of the sitcoms before then were videotaped and often don’t age as well. Given that bit of technical history, I thought that the transfer that Shout! Factory did looks great. Sure it’s not HD but it’s a very clean transfer and looks much better than the versions you might find airing on cable.

It’s a no-brainer that fans of One Day At A Time will want to add this show to their home entertainment library. If you’re a fan of Norman Lear’s productions or if you are interested in a sitcom that took on the issues of the day without fear, you won’t go wrong adding it to your collection either. Kudos to Shout! Factory for helping to preserve this important part of TV sitcom history.